Messi has won the prestigious award for the last four years but Real Madrid forward Ronaldo is the odds-on favourite to scoop the prize this year ahead of the Argentina international and Franck Ribéry when the winner is announced in Zurich on Monday.
Ronaldo finished 2013 without a trophy but scored a remarkable 66 goals in 56 appearances for club and country, notching up 15 assists for his team-mates.
The Real Madrid star’s hopes of winning the award were boosted when voting for accolade was extended by Fifa back in November following Ronaldo’s match-winning hat-trick in Portugal’s 3-2 World Cup play-off second-leg victory over Sweden.
All three deserve to win the Ballon d’Or, but I think it should go to Santa Claus
Players, coaches and members of the media were also able to re-cast their vote in time for the new deadline after Fifa privately conceded that it was a mistake to close nominations before such a crucial round of international fixtures.
Messi helped Barcelona win back the La Liga title and Argentina reach the World Cup, netting 42 goals in 45 appearances and also providing 15 assists.
France international Ribéry, meanwhile, played an instrumental role in Bayern Munich’s Treble success last season and scored 22 goals in 52 games for club and country, making 18 assists.
Ribéry also won Uefa’s best player in Europe award back in August and helped Bayern take their trophy haul up to five by winning the Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup last year.
Ronaldo has won the award once before, back in 2008, when he scored 42 goals to help Manchester United win the Premier League and Champions League double.
Meanwhile, ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is up against former Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes and Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp to be named men’s coach of the year.
Nadine Angerer (Germany), Marta (Brazil) and Abby Wambach (USA) are the three nominees in the running for the women’s world player of the year award.
Lionel Messi: “It’s a pleasure to be among the three finalists and it makes me very proud. To my mind team awards are the ones that really count, but it’s always nice to be recognised. And if I don’t win the Ballon d’Or, then it won’t be the end of the world either.”
Cristiano Ronaldo: “I don’t know if it’s fair if me, Ribery or Messi wins. If I win then great and if not, life goes on and I’ll continue just the same.”
Franck Ribery: “I’m going to carry on being happy whether I win or not. I’m just pleased to be among the contenders with Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi.”
PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “All three deserve to win the Ballon d’Or, but I think it should go to Santa Claus.”
Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola: “Franck should fly to Zurich with a big smile on his face and enjoy it. It’s not easy to get that far and he should enjoy the moment. All three are incredible players, and I’m just happy that it’s not up to me.”
Portugal boss Paulo Bento: “Ronaldo has deserved to win it before and it would be very unfair if he doesn’t come away with it this time. No matter what happens, he’s still the best player in the world. I’m absolutely sure of that. ”
Barcelona defender Jordi Alba: “Whether he wins the Ballon d’Or or not, Messi is still the best player in the world. There’s no one else like him.”
2012: Lionel Messi
2011: Lionel Messi
2010: Lionel Messi
2009: Lionel Messi
2008: Cristiano Ronaldo
2006: Fabio Cannavaro
Stay close to The Sport Review for all of the latest news from the 2013 Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich on Monday 13 January.
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